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Triggerfish

There are about 30 species of triggerfish in the world.  They tend to live in areas of currents or towards the open sea where they can feed upon crustaceans, urchins, and coral.  They also attack and eat sick or dying fish.  They make noises by striking their teeth together when battling, and are aggressive when defending their territory.  Triggerfish often wedge themselves into coral or rock crevasses where they extend their dorsal fins with a trigger mechanism.  The Picasso Triggerfish (below left) and the Orange-Lined Triggerfish (below right) are very common in French Polynesia.

The Picasso Triggerfish Rhinecanthus aculeatus The Picasso Triggerfish Rhinecanthus aculeatus tends to hang out near the sandy bottom, ready to dash into its sandy or rocky den. They are found in shallow sandy or coral rubble habitat, down to 13' (4 meters) deep.

(Society Islands, Fr. Polynesia)

We often saw the Orange Lined Triggerfish Balistapus undulatus (up to 12" or 30cm) at deeper depths while scuba diving on the outer reefs. They feed on coral, algae, worms crabs, urchins and other fish.
(Society Islands, Fr. Polynesia)
Orange Lined Triggerfish, Balistapus Undulntus
Redtooth Triggerfish Odonus niger The Redtooth Triggerfish Odonus niger has a pale blue head and darker body, with a very distinctive long tail with two lobes. We saw these fish below 50' (15 m) on our dives in Moorea.  They are shy, and prefer to hide in the reef when approached.  I have never seen their teeth to determine whether or not they are red, nor do I want to be that close! (French Polynesia)
Juvenile Clown Triggerfish, Fiji From juvenile (left) to adult (right) the Clown Triggerfish Balistoides conspicullum loses its yellow saddle and changes its back color to pale green with black spots. Ranging from East Africa to Samoa and from Southern Japan to Australia, Clown Triggerfish are solitary and may be found in coral-rich areas as deep as 250' (75 meters). The juveniles are usually in caves below 65' (20 meters) but this one was photographed in about 50' (15 meters).

Photo left: Mamanuca Islands, Fiji, by Chris Hacking.  Photo right: Chagos Archipelago, central Indian Ocean, by Amanda Hacking)

Adult Clown Triggerfish Balistoides conspicullum
The Titan Triggerfish Balistoides viridescens (up to 30" or 76cm) is a solitary, highly aggressive fish when protecting a nesting site.  The females are known to attack divers -- as we found out in Tahiti!  They are found in lagoons and outer reefs in 10-150' (3-50 meters).
(Society Islands, Fr. Polynesia)
Titan Triggerfish Balistoides viridescens

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